The electoral coalition of far-right leader Giorgia Meloni appears to hold a broad lead in Italy’s national vote, a poll of state-television retreats suggests. on Sunday night after voter turnout was at a record low.
State broadcaster Rai said the Meloni Brothers in Italy allied with two far-right parties appeared to have won 45 per cent of the vote in both chambers of Parliament. The closest candidate appears to be the centre-left coalition of former Democrat Prime Minister Enrico Letta, which polls show has won 29.5 per cent. Rai said the poll had a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.
Meloni, 45, would be well-positioned to become Italy’s first far-right prime minister since the end of World War II and the country’s first woman to hold that post. Her party, with its neo-fascist roots, will need to form a coalition with her main allies, Anti-Migration League leader Matteo Salvini and former Conservative Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to command a solid majority. in Parliament.
Meloni’s meteoric rise in the European Union’s third-largest economy comes at a critical time, as much of the continent is reeling from soaring energy bills in the aftermath of the war in Ukraine and the West’s resolve to unite against Russian aggression are being tested.
The same poll shows Meloni’s party appears to have won between 22-26% of the vote, while Letta’s centre-left Democrats appear to have won between 17-21%.
Counting of paper ballots began shortly after the polls closed, and is expected to last until Monday morning.
It could be weeks before Italy has a new coalition government assembled and sworn in.
More than a third of the 50.9 million eligible voters boycotted the vote. According to the Interior Ministry, the final turnout was 64%. This is much lower than the previous record low turnout, 73% in the last election in 2018.
Meloni was not immediately available for comment after the poll was published on state TV channel RAI. But before that, she tweeted to Italian voters: “Today you can help write history.”
Meloni’s party was born out of the legacy of a neo-fascist party founded shortly after the war by nostalgia for the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.
Italy’s complicated electoral law rewards campaign coalitions. Meloni was excited to take part in the vote as she campaigned with two longtime admirers of Russian President Vladimir Putin – Salvini and Berlusconi. She herself is a staunch supporter of supplying Ukraine with weapons to defend itself against attacks launched by Russia.
The Democrats went into the vote at a huge disadvantage because they failed to secure a similarly broad coalition with the populists and center-left.
Italy has had three coalition governments since the last election – each led by a non-candidate and that appears to have alienated many voters, pollsters said.
“I hope we will see honest people, and this is very difficult nowadays,” Adriana Gherdo said at a polling station in Rome.
The eurozone’s third-largest economy may be being closely watched for what kind of government, given Meloni’s criticism of “Brussels officials” and her ties to other right-wing leaders. She recently defended Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban after the European Commission recommended suspending billions of euros in funding to Hungary over concerns about democratic backsliding and the EU’s ability to manage money.
Sunday’s elections were held six months early after Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s pandemic solidarity government, which was widely loved, collapsed in late July.
But three populist parties in his coalition boycotted a confidence vote tied to an energy bailout. Their leaders, Salvini, Berlusconi and 5-Star Movement leader Giuseppe Conte, a former prime minister with the largest party in the outgoing Parliament, have seen Meloni’s popularity grow while growing. Theirs is going downhill.
Meloni has kept her Brotherhood party in the opposition, refusing to join Draghi’s unity government or the two coalitions ruled by Conte following the 2018 vote.
Businesses and households in Italy are struggling to pay for gas and electricity, in some cases 10 times more than last year.
Draghi remained the caretaker until the new government was sworn in.